Learning & Information | Rukuhia Te Puna Mātauranga

Aimee, Oren and Craig’s story

In a converted ambulance, you can find Oren keeping the community caffeinated.

Aimee, Oren and Craig

Aimee recently shared how Oren and his family utilise some of Oren’s disability funding and community connections to support him to have a good life.

Aimee is mum to Oren, who accesses support through Your Way | Kia Roha in Tairāwhiti. Oren has lived with Aimee since they first met in 2012 at a camp in Manawatū. Oren found his home with Aimee at age 13.

911 Coffee Ambulance

In a converted ambulance, you can find Aimee and Oren keeping the community caffeinated. Both Oren and Aimee’s partner, Craig, love ambulances so the 911 Coffee ambulance was a great fit. Aimee oversees the running of the business, and she has coached Oren along the way on running the business. Oren loves to drink coffee and interact with the customers. He memorises their favourite coffee choices which is one of the great traits of being autistic! You only have to tell him once and he will remember forever. “We have to come up with a vision plan,” says Aimee, “and make it exciting for Oren to participate in. He’s learnt that he needs to do the mahi to get paid and then he can buy things that he wants or needs.”

Individualised Funding (IF) and community connections

When Oren finished school, the funded disability-related supports were no longer working. This was in part due to a lack of routine that was challenging for the family to cope with. “Oren is autistic and looks for consistency and regularity in his day. Every day is different, and if you have met only one autistic person, then you have only met one autistic person,” says Aimee. This is where funded support alongside their vision for a good life has helped. The family have been able to gain this through accessing Individualised Funding (IF).

“The best thing about IF means we don’t have to worry about any other service that may let us down. We have control in how resources are used. Reliability is the key,” says Aimee. “Your Way | Kia Roha has been so supportive. A burning light in a dark room. Nothing is too hard. If we are struggling, we are asked ‘how can Your Way | Kia Roha help?’ Not a door slammed in your face.” IF has meant Oren knows who is coming every day and what to expect. He also uses IF to attend Tautua Village, a youth space where he plays the drums. Aimee uses IF respite so she can take a break with Craig and Oren can have a change of scene. IF also means flexibility for the family and their trusted carers. Days and hours can be swapped with trusted people if someone needs to be away, Aimee says, “it makes life way easier.”

What’s next?

The extended family are looking forward to an upcoming holiday together and there is always plenty of adventure to be had. Aimee said, “It is an important focus for Oren to access all that happens within his community. An example of this was the outdoor Six60 concert we went to as a family – we formed a circle around him, he was in the middle so that he felt safe, and we had a ball.” Aimee and Craig shared that they often ask themselves, “what happens to Oren when we’re gone?” Life skills are important, and they often think about how they can support Oren with these as they continue preparing for the future. Equally important is for Oren to continue to grow his supports and networks in the community.

“We have a lot of goals, and we are working on taking a trip to Samoa and also Australia next year. My aim for Oren is to be happy and become as independent as possible.” There are often setbacks and times when things are not going so well but good support – both natural and funded – helps to work through this in a holistic way.

Thank you to Aimee, Oren and Craig (aka other Mum, Mini Mac and Mac), for sharing their story.

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